Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed. D.


Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, EDD

Committee Chair

Ingle, William

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Powers, Debbie

Committee Member

Powers, Debbie

Committee Member

Stevens, Doug

Committee Member

Yarbrough, Rachel

Author's Keywords

professional development; pedagogical practice; instructional coaches; teacher rounds


Professional development supports teacher growth and enhances pedagogical practice. Teachers in Kentucky must complete annual professional development hours and districts must develop a professional development plan tied to research that supports high-quality professional development. This qualitative case study takes place in a rural district, Bullitt County, where I investigated the teachers’ perception of a customized professional development, Thinking Focus Cohort (TFC), and its impact on their pedagogical practice. While a body of research exists on high quality professional development, there is a lack of research on the effectiveness of it, in particular a year-long cohort model with curriculum centered around four pillars: learning of community, thinking strategies, gradual release of responsibility, and academic discourse. This study drew upon data collected from document analysis, semi-structured interviews and group level assessment (GLA). Document analysis provided an understanding of materials used throughout TFC and feedback gathered from outside observers and participants. The semi-structured interviews provided insight into participants’ perspectives on their experience of TCF. GLA questions functioned to fill the gap of information which addressed teachers’ perceptions of the Thinking Focus Cohort and its influence on teachers’ pedagogical practice, specifically focusing on the participants’ experience as a community of learners as well as their intentional pedagogical practices. Findings show the customized professional development, TFC, impacted teachers’ pedagogical practice from their perspective after reviewing the participants’ responses aligned with the selective codes. First, participants were able to identify intentional pedagogical practices they implemented, which also created higher teacher and student efficacy. Next, participants revealed the importance of instructional coaches serving as mentors to foster the perceived pedagogical changes. Finally, participants discussed how the teacher rounds provided exemplar modeling of the intended instructional strategies and created an avenue for collaboration throughout the district. In summary, the transformational changes to teachers’ pedagogical practice was supported through a year-long cohort of modeling instructional strategies tied to the curriculum while meeting monthly was enhanced through instructional coaches and teacher rounds. The demands of teaching have evolved -in part due to high stakes accountability systems. This is coupled with the hemorrhage of teachers leaving the profession for more personal and professional reasons. Professional development is a means for teachers to experience critical support through collaboration, thus resulting in pedagogical changes. The effective professional development and the desired results point directly to implications for policy and practice to mitigate compliance driven by regulations and law, suggesting instead the creation of structures to evaluate the effectiveness of professional development. This also points directly to examining the style of delivery and methods of support within the evaluation system of professional development. Teachers become models of continued learning focusing on improving their pedagogical practice. This study reveals the importance of high-quality professional development as a means to positively impact a teacher’s pedagogical practice.